Māori culture is set to be showcased on the world stage once again through a living art exhibition, Tuko Iho, on display in South America for the very first time this month.
Tuko Iho|Living Legacy is an exhibition of time-honoured Māori artworks, including more than 80 pieces of art made from wood, pounamu (greenstone), bone, stone, bronze and flax mediums, created at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts institute (NZMACI).
Tuku Iho also includes a living culture component, with a kapa haka group touring and performing alongside – two of the group travelled to Chile immediately following their performances last week at Te Matatini, New Zealand's national kapa haka competition.
The exhibition’s South American debut will be in Santiago, Chile on March 10 before moving on to Argentina in June and Brazil later in the year. The South American tour follows successful and well-received exhibitions in China and Malaysia in 2013 and 2014.
NZMACI director Karl Johnstone says Tuku Iho is a tribute to the Māori culture and a way to extend and reconnect our indigenous roots to people and cultures around the globe.
“It provides an opportunity for our artists and performers to interact with the arts community and exhibition visitors, providing insights about Māori culture and connecting the art to the people it comes from.”
Mr Johnstone says the opening exhibition also builds on the relationship forged between Chile and New Zealand during the 2013 Waka Tapu journey to Rapa Nui, a special territory of Chile. The journey involved two traditional double-hulled waka hourua (Māori sailing canoes), which sailed 10,000 nautical miles over 10 months to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and back in order to close the final corner of the Polynesian Triangle.
NZMACI is located at Te Puia, one of New Zealand’s oldest visitor attractions. The Institute is responsible for the protection and perpetuation of Māori arts, crafts and culture, and is home to the national schools of wood carving, pounamu, weaving, stone and bone carving, with a Waka Building School in Northland.
“Tuku Iho is a core representation of our mandate and the work we do. It helps preserve and promote Māori culture, allowing us to foster a wider awareness of Māori stories, values and traditions. It also reflects the passing down of knowledge to preserve our unique cultural heritage,” Mr Johnstone says.
The official opening of the exhibition will involve a series of high-profile events and activities, designed to engage and acknowledge key stakeholders including tourism, business and education sectors. New Zealand officials from Tourism NZ, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Education NZ and Te Puia|NZMACI will be present in Chile to support the exhibition and associated events.
Te Puia chief executive Tim Cossar says the exhibition serves to position Rotorua and New Zealand as a unique visitor destination, by showcasing its culture and history in a visual and genuine way.
“Tuku Iho provides a way to make a connection with people and it literally brings our Rotorua and New Zealand experience to life for everyone involved. Cultural exchanges such as this are an important way of connecting with different cultures and countries, providing the opportunity to build stronger connections and relationships.”More on Tuku Iho